ICA President Letter to Members 2020

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Dear ICA friends,

It wasn’t that long ago, just last March, that I was writing to you, hoping to find everyone in good health and safe at home. Little did we know then that we would still be saying this at the end of the year.

Although we are still facing this moment with no in-person trade shows in sight and with limited access to suppliers and clients, we urge all of our members to remain attentive and compliant to your local guidelines, and to act responsibly in your businesses, towards your family, your staff, and your customers.

However, hope is nearby. With a global vaccination protocol in sight, we finally see a light at the end of this dark tunnel in order to be able to resume our business operations.

It has been a tough year for all of us. And through it all, ICA has been working very hard for you and our natural colored gemstone industry. Even with the closure of borders, the cancellations of international flights, and the closures and postponements of the major international trade fairs, ICA has maintained full service and support for members throughout this crisis.

ICA has been active online with our newsletters, supporting education, and at third-party seminars, all aimed at maintaining a steady presence, keeping the interest in colored gemstones and gemstone set jewellery alive and well.

ICA has stepped up communication to all of our members, and the wider gem and jewellery community, not only through our newsletter as mentioned above, but also through personal emails, our website, social media, and press releases. ICA is providing helpful information to businesses to endure the challenges we are all facing. We also see a rising number of small gemstone businesses reinventing, exploring, and increasing their digital presence as means to secure and maintain relationships with clients. We believe this trend will continue long past the pandemic and may redefine the business as we know.

Out Front for the ICA and the Industry
I have personally participated in several interviews and webinars, including CIBJO’s “Gemstone traceability: Viable objective or unrealistic challenge,” Guild’s “Colored Gemstone Global Supply Chain: Opportunities,” and interviews for Jewelry News Asia, “China's online jewelry business,” and National Jeweler. Senior advisors Damien Cody, vice president Henry Ho, vice president Warren Boyd, and others, also spoke several times on behalf of ICA and the Colored Gemstone Industry.

Support to Other Associations
During the year ICA remained in close contact and cooperating with several Associations worldwide. In June, I sent out a Video in support of AIGS and its Branch opening in Shanghai, China. I have also sent a video to the 2020 China (Changle) International Gem Fair by the Gems & Jewelry Trade Association of China (GAC), and was a keynote speaker at the International Jewelry Summit in Shanghai. We also participated in video presentations for the Guangdong Gems & Jade Exchange, GGJE, as well as The World Jewellery Confederation, CIBJO.

Behind the Scenes
Our ICA Board Committees were busy all year long, holding Zoom meetings with the full Board and advisors (30+), the Communications Committee, the Shows Committee, and the Eyes on the Future Committee, looking for ways to help our members traverse this pandemic and prepare for the near future.

Furthermore, the office is now using Boardable, a software specifically designed for Associations to work closely with its Board Directors improving our communications considerably.

Many members of your Board have attended several presentations of new online platforms in order to select and offer the best and most convenient services to our members. We will let you know soon what we have learned that could strengthen your business.

ICA 2021 China Congress
Our 2021 Congress is still on track, as Lucas Lu and the Shuibei Jewelry Company are working very hard behind the scenes to hold our biennial Congress in Shenzhen China in September 2021.

Covid-19 Resources for ICA Members
One of the ways we have been supporting our members is by encouraging all of you to review tips on best business practices and inspirations found across the world market on our website’s Covid-19 page.

Accredited Ethical Member Status
We also encourage you all to stick together for ICA principles, and take the time to become an even stronger member of the trade by moving to the next level of recognition as an ICA Accredited Ethical Member, a status which may help you advance your businesses when the economy finally climbs back up.

Added Student Memberships
We are now reaching out to the younger generation as many of us are becoming the seniors of our industry. It is time we looked to the future and bring them into the association. Afterall, they will be the ones who will be able to adjust to the new hybrid business models we are anticipating.

Looking ahead to 2021
As we look to improve ICA’s global position, we have hired two firms to help us dive deep into our mission for the world-wide gemstone industry, a detailed and thorough branding project to help ICA move forward, with many of our younger members of the Board taking the lead on this very important project.

New Board Member
Stephan Reif, owner of the Green Dragon demantoid mine in Namibia, has left the Board and the industry to pursue other interests, and so we appointed antique and estate merchant Ioannis Alexandris, Gemolithos Fine Gems and Jewels, to head up the Communications Committee. Ioannis is an outstanding member of the trade, and very hard worker and strong supporter for ICA

The JCK Show went Virtual
One of our more important trade shows is the JCK Las Vegas show in June. This too was cancelled, and then reincarnated into a virtual show. Although this first attempt was not as effective as an on-site trade show it did begin a trend of going hybrid that we feel will stay with us even after we come out of the pandemic.

InColor Magazine
I am happy to report that our Fall/Winter issue of InColor is at the printer as we speak. It is an incredible keepsake, focusing on Jade. As you will recall, the pandemic really threw off our schedule this year, especially when the major trade shows cancelled. Without the trade shows to deliver hard copy magazines, and the increase in cost to print smaller numbers, the Board determined that ICA should be more fiscally conservative than normal and produce the Spring/Summer issue of InColor Magazine as an online magazine only. We were anticipating that this would be temporary, and with the Fall/Winter magazine focusing on Jade, and would be printed for our China Congress in September of 2021, we knew that this was the right decision.

The Jade issue is also the last issue for our esteemed Editor in Chief, Jean Claude Michelou. This issue will be the culminating magazine of a sixteen-year journey for JC and InColor that we are very proud of. I would like to thank JC for his great work on InColor, and his dedication to ICA throughout these years.

If you have not yet read the Spring/Summer issue, I want to urge you to do so. It is a very comprehensive look at the evolution of the gemstones and jewelry industry, chronology and articles. Very well-done.

As you know, we added our online Flipping Book as an easy way to take your magazines with you. And if you like, you can print pages, or download them as well.

Developing and Expanding our Global Ambassadors
We have appointed two new ambassadors, Lucas Lu from the Shuibei Jewellery Group in Shenzhen, China, and Dacques Nini from Dallas, Texas. Our ambassadors play a key role in keeping in touch with our local membership.

Solidarity of Diversity
And because we are an association of all creeds, colors, nationalities, and religions, we made it our duty to post our stance in solidarity on Gemstone.org. We embody inclusiveness. We are the diversity that makes this world and the colored gemstone industry what it is today.

Still Facing Challenges Together
Again, we are all family in this business, so we urge you to reach out to fellow ICA Members that you know and offer them support. Share your successes, and your positive thoughts. Our fellowship reflects the true ICA spirit!

We realize the challenges you are all facing, as we are facing them too. As this year comes to a close, we want to thank you very much for your continued support of ICA. Without your support, without your membership, ICA too would be facing even greater challenges. So please, take some time to renew for 2021, and support the many more projects and services on the way for all our members. Just follow the easy steps on the renewal notice that is probably already in your email inbox.

On behalf of all of us at ICA, happy holidays, stay safe, and thank you for your support of ICA. Here is to a better year ahead for all of us!

Clement Sabbagh

ICA President

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